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Bloomberg: How Europe became the epicenter of chaos in



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Travelers from Europe are paying more and more for a plane ticket and yet they are less likely to actually reach their destination. From London to Amsterdam to Berlin, chaotic scenes unfold at airports as the fine interaction between check-in desks, security staff and baggage handlers crumbles, according to Bloomberg.

While the Asian tourism industry is still suffering from Covid-19 and the US is suffering from a shortage of pilots, data on ticket prices and cancellations show that Europe is where the unrest has caused the biggest problems.

Europe had more than double the number of cancellations compared to US carriers between April and June, according to data tracking company RadarBox.com. The reduced flights in June – the beginning of the summer season in Europe – totaled 7,870 departures from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain, almost triple the number recorded in the same period in 2019, says the aviation consulting company Cirium.

Meanwhile, fares on summer routes, such as London – Alicante in Spain, are more than three times higher this week than in the same week last year, according to data from Kayak.com. Prices from Paris to New York have tripled since March 2019.

The breakdown highlights how a faster-than-expected recovery in air transport has faced a massive shortage of staff after deep reductions during the pandemic. Instead of a noisy comeback, the global aviation industry is stumbling, unable to quickly launch operations from the worst travel decline on record.

The general situation is exacerbated by strikes across the continent, as rampant inflation leads to higher wage demands.

France’s civil aviation authority on Thursday ordered a reduction in flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle due to a fire strike. The cabin crew of Ryanair Holdings Plc in Spain, Portugal and Belgium staged a three-day strike last weekend, which was later joined by colleagues from France and Italy. More industrial action is scheduled as the continent enters its peak holiday season.

Lufthansa AG CEO Carsten Spohr has warned that things are unlikely to return to normal by the end of the year, but the risk is that the disturbances will undermine recovery by discouraging bookings.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. CEO Shai Weiss, whose company canceled only a few flights, warned airlines and airports not to push families and companies to wonder if they really need to travel.

Indeed, recent weeks have been dominated by images of rows of people meandering outside Amsterdam’s terminal buildings, groups camped in departure halls in Frankfurt and piles of luggage in London. Alternative modes of transport are also less than attractive, with the United Kingdom being hit by rail strikes and an increase in driving costs following an increase in petrol prices.

Some airlines are getting creative in terms of how they process passengers waiting to check in their luggage. EasyJet Plc said it offers free luggage delivery the night before the trip to Berlin’s main airport, starting July 1, before the week when schools close for the summer holidays. The service covers approximately 30% of the daily flights of the low cost carrier.